Thieves targeting catalytic converters
Posted at: 03/13/2013 11:31 AM
| Updated at: 03/13/2013 6:20 PM
By: Berkeley Brean | WHEC.com
Investigators say thieves are getting smart when it comes to auto thefts. Instead of taking the car, they're taking the most expensive part and leaving the vehicle behind.
There has been a spike in catalytic converter thefts. That's the device located between your cars' engine and the exhaust pipe. It helps to reduce toxic exhaust. But it's the platinum inside that thieves can get money for at scrap yards.
This is a crime that happens almost exclusively after hours and in the dark. So it's very tough to prevent. If the thieves are good, they can do it fast.
How about three trucks in 20 minutes? That's what they did to Jim Zetes fleet last month.
Jim Zetes, Unifirst Corp, said, “It's high enough where they can get under there real quick and get out real quick.”
One weekend, a group of thieves cut out the catalytic converters on three of his trucks. He knew there was a problem when they started up Monday morning.
Zetes said, “As soon as they started up their trucks, we knew something was gone and we knew it wasn't three mufflers all at the same time.”
About a mile away in Henrietta, thieves hit the delivery trucks of Bill's Carpet and Furniture Center.
Shawn Hovey, Bill's Carpet and Furniture Center Warehouse Manager, said, “Then you're wondering what else happened? Are they going to come back and do it again?”
Bob Metcalfe, Gates Automotive, said, “The catalytic converter is easy to take off if you know what you're doing.”
Bob Metcalfe helps manage the Gates Automotive shop on Buffalo Road. This is where they've seen a spike in the thefts of catalytic converters.
It's not that big, but it's the main target. Since New Year's, they've seen about half a dozen instances where trucks and vans have come in with the catalytic converter cut out of the vehicle.
Metcalfe said, “It's over night that this is happening. It's over weekends. It's basically when businesses don't have people hanging around and it's dark out.”
That's what happened at Unifirst in Henrietta.
This security camera video shows the mini-van full of thieves that drove up to the trucks and stole the converters. Police have the other video that shows them doing it. Unfortunately, it hasn't led to an arrest.
News10NBC talked to several police departments around the county. They know about these kinds of thefts, but they're not sure there's a spike in the crime.
News10NBC heard from a dozen places saying their trucks were hit, that includes the non-for-profit, Lifetime Assistance. Two of the delivery trucks in their shredding business were hit. It cost them thousands to repair the trucks and rent others ones while the work was getting done.